13th January 2023

Photo opportunities were limited today, it was a total ‘pea souper’ above 800m; more technically known as ‘white out’ in the mountaineering world.  ‘White Out’ means that you can’t differentiate between the sky and the ground and that was definitely the case today here on Cairngorm.  The photo below illustrates exactly this (Thanks Paul for modelling!).  Very challenging conditions to navigate in, it would be easy to literally just walk over a cornice when visibility is this poor.

So no big wide vistas today, but there were some interesting snow features.  The photo below is a great illustration of Rime Ice.  Formed by super cooled water droplets freezing onto surfaces, in this example the return wheel at the top of the Ptarmigan ski tow (1150m).  It’s a great indication of the prevailing wind, as Rime Ice is the only snow/ice feature which builds into the prevailing wind.  Thus giving you a good indication of where any drifting snow has headed.

The snow profile location today was in Ciste Mhearad on an Easterly aspect, fragile cornices were present on this aspect.

Unusually, the location of the snow profile was pretty benign with no snow blowing around.  There is a significant depth of snow in this wind sheltered high location (1100m)  well in excess of 2m.

Difficult to see on the photo, but the majority of the windslab is very stable.  There are however weaknesses within the top 10cm.  See snow profile data for further information.

And finally, it was a relief to drop back down and gain some visibility.  Below a shot taken around 750m looking down the ski area in Corrie Cas showing the superficial dusting of fresh snow at lower levels.



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